Advice is being issued to people in Oxfordshire after the county joined a growing number of places in the UK to record cases of avian influenza (bird flu) in the wild bird population.
Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards team has local responsibilities in the area of animal welfare working in partnership with central government. The team has issued the following practical advice for local people when out walking:
- Keep to the footpaths.
- Keep dogs on a lead.
- Do not feed wild waterfowl.
- Do not pick up or touch dead or sick wild birds.
- Do not touch wild bird feathers or surfaces contaminated with wild bird droppings.
Comprehensive general advice on bird flu can be found on gov.uk
Advice for people who keep poultry and other birds
- People can also spread the disease on their clothes and shoes. Before going into bird enclosures people should wash their hands and change or clean and disinfect their footwear.
- All bird keepers (whether they have pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) must keep a close watch on them for signs of disease and take steps to avoid the spread of disease at all times. People who have concerns about the health of their birds, are encouraged to seek advice promptly from a vet.
- Poultry should be registered, even if only kept as a pet. This is so that owners can be contacted during an outbreak. This is a legal requirement if a person has 50 or more birds. Poultry includes chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, pigeons (bred for meat), partridges, quails, guinea fowl and pheasants. Registration can be completed on gov.uk
Further advice on how to keep your birds safe during this time can be found on gov.uk
People should report sightings of dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese, or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) by calling 03459 335577.
Anyone who finds a sick bird can alert the RSPCA by calling 0300 1234999.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has said that avian influenza is primarily a disease of birds and the risk to the general public’s health is very low.